Merry Wanderer of the Night + TIME

Author Guest Post: Karen White, Author of The Lost Hours

What Writing Ten Novels in Nine Years Has Taught Me

1) I’ve learned that I only have 2 hands. Writing a book takes as long as it takes, regardless of how long my editor or agent may think it should actually take me; I believe they have learned to deal with this. I will not drive back to school to deliver a forgotten book or PE bag. My children have learned to deal with it. I thought I’d be on the NYT list after my first book. I’ve learned to deal with it. I can only work as hard or as fast as my two hands will allow me. This will only change if I somehow manage to clone myself. I’m still learning how to deal with that.

2) I’ve learned that frozen vegetables are OK, regardless of what my mother thinks. Same goes for ordering gifts online and making cakes out of a box.

3) I’ve learned that there will be times when I will see my gift as a blessing and adore every word that flies from my fingertips. There will also be times when I will view this very same gift with derision, calling every word drivel, and every page a waste of a good tree. From this, I’ve learned that writing is a lot like the stock market: there will always be ups and downs, and you have to be in it for the long haul to be able to reap any benefits.

4) I’ve learned that crying is a good thing. If I’m doing that while writing an emotional scene, then I’m doing it right. Laughing is good, too, as long as it’s supposed to be funny.

5) I’ve learned that sitting with bad posture for extended lengths of time while absorbed in writing a novel can seriously damage your back. And the prospect of having needles inserted into spine to relieve pain can actually be a welcome thought.

6) I’ve learned that there are mean people out there; people who apparently have nothing better to do than write inane or bad reviews on Amazon or elsewhere; I’ve also learned that they are wonderful and generous people out there who take the time to write and let me know how much they’ve enjoyed my books; I’ve learned that good friends, fans and family are a nice buffer between me and the mean people and to try and spend more time with them. Voodoo dolls help, too.

7) I’ve learned that grocery shopping is overrated. My ability to concentrate on the manuscript at hand is indirectly proportional to how stocked my pantry is. Procrastinating by snacking is one of my favorite activities. So is shopping online. My husband is threatening to enroll me in a three-step program for the latter. I simply tell him that I don’t have time—I’m too busy procrastinating and shopping!

8) I’ve learned that my writing is not a hobby. It’s a calling and something I feel compelled to do. If I ever devote this kind of time, money and energy to a hobby, I want somebody to shoot me or have me committed.

9) I’ve learned that summer vacation is as much for me as it is for my children if not more so. I’ve learned that they live in a veritable country club for most of the year (with a personal maid, chauffeur, chef, social planner and personal secretary) and that she needs a break. I’ve learned to turn a deaf ear to their plea for lounging by the pool all day and put them to work. My daughter will be updating my database for my mailing list this summer and my son will become more acquainted with the washing machine and vacuum cleaner. There will also be the nirvana of all mothers: Summer Camp.

10) I’ve learned that the word ‘no’ is actually a word I can become comfortable with saying. I can almost say that I have at times enjoyed the feeling of it rolling off my tongue.

11) I have learned that no matter how many times it happens, I’m always touched by the kind words in a fan letter.

12) I’ve learned that despite good sales, good reviews, kind fan mail and awards, there will still be times when I look down at the page I’ve just written and say to myself, “this sucks.”

13) I’ve learned that with every novel, I’ve learned something new. Gained more confidence. Gotten better. Found new ways to express myself or tell a story. But it has never, ever become easier. Like my father used to tell me, if it were easy, everybody would be doing it.

14) I’ve learned that despite all the ups and downs, there is nothing in my life that I would change. Except, maybe, the size of my hips and the annoying habit my family has of needing to be fed every day.

15) I’ve learned that blogging on a virtual tour is hard work! Trying to say something new and different for each blog leads one to make a list of lessons learned in the hopes that she might enlighten others and even maybe be a little bit entertaining.

Thank you, Karen! Check back tomorrow for my review of Karen's latest novel, The Lost Hours.

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Author Guest Post: Karen White, Author of The Lost Hours + TIME